IndyCar eyeing a return to Gateway (4th Update)

UPDATE

Gateway
Gateway

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The sides agreed to a multi-year deal. The race date will be announced at today's news conference.

“Happily, there was considerable interest," Miles said. “We're only adding one new race and there was interest around the country. We liked Gateway for a few reasons. We were impressed by Curtis and his vision for Gateway. It makes all the difference to have substantial ownership that is doing it to contribute to the fabric of the community."

Gateway's oval configuration, which is 1 ¼ miles, might have been helpful in the process to balance the types of courses. Its position in the Midwest and proximity to Indianapolis also were advantageous.

"The core of IndyCar is the Midwest and it gives us a lot of confidence of a strong fan base," Miles said. "There's a meaningful number who come from St. Louis to the Indy 500. It's a good thing in one respect because there's a proven fan base.

"We do have to be careful because we don't have too many opportunities to add new tracks and want to make sure we have a national balance. In the end, we saw it as a strength in this case."

08/04/16

CART Gateway action in 2000
CART Gateway action in 2000

Gateway Motorsports Park is in discussions with the IndyCar series to add a race at the track in Madison in 2017, with a decision expected by the end of August writes Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gateway general manager Chris Blair said the biggest challenge is finding a date that avoids major conflicts and fits into network television schedules. The Indy Racing League, as it was previously called, last ran at Gateway from 2001 to 2003.

The two sides have talked about a race for a couple of years, and IndyCar chief executive Mark Miles visited the facility last week for the first time.

"We've been kicking the can down the road for some time talking to them, but this was the first opportunity the CEO had to look at the track," Blair said.

"We're pretty far into the conversations, but we don't have a signed agreement yet. There are a few things we have to sort out, the main thing being the date."

Blair said Gateway ideally would get a Saturday night for the race.

Gateway was approved last year as a certified test course for IndyCar, and driver Ed Carpenter tested at the track last fall. That came after series officials visited the track in 2014 and in the summer of 2015.

Driver Graham Rahal was at the track during last year's NHRA drag-racing event and was able to check out the track as well.

"Ed gave rave reviews and the Firestone tire people loved the surface," Blair said. "A lot of that has helped along the way."

The track had shut down for two years before Curtis Francois leased the track in 2012 and re-opened with NHRA.

The IndyCar series is the same open wheel racing circuit that includes the Indianapolis 500. The series has 16 races this season, with five on oval tracks.

"I think it can be a huge step for us," Blair said. "It's a major league event for sure, especially when you take a look at the success of the Indy 500. I think it can have a dramatic impact on the community."

Gateway's lineup now includes the NHRA and NASCAR Truck Series. Blair said the track has what is needed for the different events and that IndyCar provides other necessities.

Many names have changed since the Indy Racing League event at Gateway in 2003, but some remain the same. Helio Castroneves, who won the '03 race, remains competitive as does Tony Kanaan, who was second that year. This year's series leader is Simon Pagenaud, followed by Will Power. Stu Durando/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

08/01/16

CART action at Gateway in 2000
CART action at Gateway in 2000

This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. The 2017 and tentative 2018 Verizon IndyCar schedules will be announced in the next two or three weeks but Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles says next year's menu is going to look a lot like this year's with the possibility of adding "one more race."

RACER has learned it will be the 1.25-mile oval at Gateway Motorsports Park, located east of St. Louis in Madison, Ill., and the race will be held in August. Australia, Portland and Calgary remain possibilities but not until 2018.

"We said we'd have it out by mid-August and we will, but we wanted to exhaust all possibilities," said Miles. "We wanted to try and open the 2017 season earlier but I remain optimistic about getting going in February of 2018.

"As it is, it's the earliest we've had our schedule ready so that's good for our promoters and fans."

Gateway hosted Championship Auto Racing Teams from 1997-2001 before the Indy Racing League tried its hand in 2002 and 2003. Other than CART's debut, attendance was never very good and open wheel was gone by 2004 and replaced by NASCAR trucks.

The original owner, Dover Motorsports, finally closed the doors in 2010 before a former racer named Curtis Francois leased the track and brought back NHRA drag racing in 2012. Since that time, Francois has brought in NASCAR trucks and USAC Silver Crown cars to go along with NHRA, while giving the track and facilities a complete makeover. Robin Miller/Racer.com

06/05/16 One source in the Detroit Paddock said he thought Gateway might be back on the IndyCar schedule in 2017. If true, when will they ever learn. IndyCar keeps regurgitating failed markets expecting different results. The late Albert Einstein once said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

09/14/15 Rumor has it that IndyCar is eyeing a possible return to the 1.25-mile Gateway oval near St. Louis.

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